Senior dental care is often neglected and it is surprising, especially considering how prevalent dental issues are among seniors and the effects of compromised oral health and its critical relation to the body’s general health. According to the CDC, more than 95% of adults aged 65 or above have had a cavity and, of those, 68% have also had gum disease.
In seniors, close attention must be paid to dental care as issues like toothache, tooth decay, and tooth loss become more frequent. These conditions cause a great deal of discomfort and seniors would not be able to enjoy their food and, as a result, not get the nutrition they need.
Pre-existing health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease can also impact your oral health, giving rise to more problems. This makes it vital that dental care be paid close attention among seniors.
Today we’ll discuss the impacts of oral health, some dental care tips, and the relation between oral health and general health. Hopefully, this short read will help seniors understand and maintain their oral health.
Oral Health for Older Adults
While you find people stressing the importance of oral health and dentist visits to kids, dental problems in older adults deserve just as much attention.
When it comes to seniors, the key objective for their health is to delay physical and mental deterioration as much as possible. One of the most significant approaches to achieving this is through nutrition, as it forms a fundamental part of promoting good health in seniors.
Key food groups, vitamins, and minerals are necessary for seniors to ensure their bones and muscles stay strong, preventing falls and injuries, and keeping cognitive functions active. One of the biggest causes of this being compromised is dental problems.
Dental problems like tooth decay or gum disease can cause issues in mastication and swallowing, leading to inefficient digestion. Moreover, with tooth problems, seniors won’t even enjoy their food, making them consume even less food.
It might sound like an exaggeration, but countless studies have linked poor oral health to poor nutrition and further general health problems. Statistics even show how prevalent tooth issues are in seniors.
According to the CDC, 1 in 5 seniors have untreated tooth decay, while almost 68% of adults aged 65 years or above have gum disease. Tooth loss is a frequent issue in seniors, with 1 in 5 seniors having lost a good number of teeth after the age of 65, and almost completely by the age of 75.
Another issue seniors face, especially those suffering from conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is that the risk of dental problems increases as a result of dry mouth arising from side effects linked to various medications. A dry mouth and the reduced saliva flow it causes, can lead to cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Dental Care Tips and Maintenance:
Considering the role of dental health in seniors, it must be maintained as much as possible. Here are some tips that you can follow.
Brushing And Flossing
You should brush and floss your teeth every day, as it removes dental plaque, which is a sticky film of bacteria and germs that can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
Therefore, brush and floss twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a dental floss that suits you. You could also consult with your dentist on what type of dental floss would suit your teeth and gums best.
Eating Habits That Are Good For Your Teeth
You should look to build eating habits that are healthy for your teeth. These include cutting down on sugary foods and drinks, as sugar can cause cavities and tooth decay. Cutting down on sugar will also benefit your general health a great deal.
If you use tobacco, whether through cigarettes or chewing tobacco, then work on a plan to quit. Not only are you being unfair to your teeth and oral health, but you’re putting your body through a lot of damage by consuming tobacco products, which includes a heightened risk of oral cancer.
Alcohol also increases the risk of oral cancer and other dental problems, so try to consume alcohol in extreme moderation.
Be Vigilant And Visit Your Dentist Regularly
With age, the risk of oral cancer increases so seniors must be vigilant with their oral health and watch for any changes. Check for spots and lumps in the mouth, lips, or throat, or if you’re having any trouble while chewing or swallowing.
If you notice these symptoms or any other changes, then consult with a dentist or your physician immediately.
Those seniors dealing with dry mouth should also speak to their doctor, as dry mouth can make it hard to eat and talk, not only compromising quality of life but also compromising nutrition and overall health.
Since dry mouth is usually a side effect of medication, your doctor should be able to advise you on the best way to manage and fix any such issues.
The Link Between General Health and Oral Health
While we have already discussed the link between oral health and nutrition, studies have also suggested that the link between oral health and general health goes beyond nutrition only. The link between oral and general health is something that has been researched by scientists for decades.
Research shows that periodontal diseases have a link to other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and dementia. According to the CDC, compromised oral health can have a strong impact, leading to heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Speak To An Expert About Dental Health Coverage
As you can tell, dental health plays a very big role in the lives of seniors. Even if there is debate on the link between poor oral health and severe medical conditions, one cannot deny that it does compromise quality of life.
Many people opt out of dental health services because of cost concerns. If you are a senior looking for dental health services but are afraid it might be beyond your means, then speak to someone who can help you navigate government healthcare coverage.
To learn more visit Northwood Intouch. You can also call us at +1 (902) 492-3346 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org